NOT OVER YET
A.J. Hoffman: Like it or not, you haven't seen the last of Ken Giles
There was a bit of a sigh of relief across Astros universe when Ken Giles got sent down to the minors after Tuesday night’s meltdown and the potty-mouthed tirade that followed it.
Giles, who was solid for a majority of last season, became so unreliable in the playoffs that the Astros completely went away from using him. This season has been up and down for the hard-throwing reliever. He has been flawless in save situations, but we all know that not every high leverage situation is a “save situation.” When opponents have hit Giles, they have hit him hard. In 34 appearances, Giles gave up earned runs in 9 games. Not horrible, but not exactly vintage-Mariano Rivera either. In 4 of those 9 games he gave up multiple earned runs. Any time a reliever starts to get beat up, fanbases become frustrated. Giles’ case is no different. But here is the rub.
The Astros are going to need Ken Giles.
I know, I can hear you groaning and scoffing as you read that last line. Giles still has “stuff.” He throws harder than any other Astro, and as the season goes on Houston will need someone to come in and throw heat. After seeing Cionel Perez on Wednesday night, a left hander with an upper mid-90’s fastball who has dominated at the minor league level, I have a feeling he is with the big club for the long haul.
So when Giles comes back, and I believe he will come back, who will be the casualty?
Hector Rondon is likely to be the closer with Giles gone, and perhaps will stick in that role if Giles were to return. Collin McHugh has been phenomenal this year, and provides multi-inning capability. Chris Devenski was vital down the stretch last year, and has looked strong this season. Tony Sipp, a guy who every Astros fan was ready to throw on the scrap heap last year, has been surprisingly effective. Brad Peacock has been up and down, but would likely be “next man up” if a starter were to go down. That really leaves just Will Harris and Joe Smith. Both have been frustrating, although neither has been particularly awful. The reality is, at his best, Giles just has a higher upside than those two players.
Giles will work on things at Fresno, probably both mental and physical things, and the Astros will eventually recall him and hope for him to be a piece of their playoff run. Granted, they need “good Ken Giles”, and not “hold your breath Ken Giles.” Remember that they are invested in him. It is obviously in the organization’s best interest for Giles to earn his keep in Houston.
So, enjoy your late innings for the next few weeks, Astros fans. Ken Giles will be back in Houston soon, and while his days as the 9th inning man may be done, the Astros will need him to pitch in tough situations into the fall.
Like it or not.